As Hurricane Sandy barreled toward Connecticut with 90 mile-per-hour winds, flooding began by noon in low-laying parts of town and officials made a last-ditch plea to families along the coast to evacuate their homes.
“Don’t be macho. Get out of your house if they’ve asked you to evacuate,” U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro said at a press briefing at Nathan Hale School, the temporary outpost on the East Shore for New Haven’s emergency workers.
DeLauro (pictured) spoke along with New Haven Mayor John DeStefano and East Haven Mayor Joe Maturo at the 11:30 a.m. briefing.
Officials have ordered some 223,000 people to evacuate homes along the shoreline. Many have complied. Some are holding out and staying put.
By high tide near midnight Monday, high tides are expected to reach 10 feet—twice as high as they did last year during Tropical Storm Irene.
DeStefano urged New Haveners to “act with common sense.”
“If you’ve been asked to evacuate, you’re doing neither yourself nor our public safety workers any good to stay where you are,” he said.
DeStefano said people should not be fooled by the relatively calm weather Monday afternoon.
“What we’re seeing right now is just the child,” he said. “The mother is going to be here in 12 hours with an 8 to 10-foot surge. We expect people to act accordingly.”
DeLauro announced that the Obama administration will reimburse New Haven for up to 75 percent of the cost of repairs to public infrastructure during Hurricane Sandy. (Other programs cover private damage.)
Eighteen people had sought refuge at the city’s shelter at Career High School (140 Legion Ave.) by noon, according to city Chief Administrative Officer Rob Smuts. (The city has opened a secondary “area of refuge” at the Benjamin Jepson School at 15 Lexington St. for people who didn’t make it off the East Shore in time; generators will keep electricity on there, and the city plans to transport people to Career if they need to go.)
The high tide at 11:30 a.m. Monday swamped flood-prone parts of the city, including South Water Street in City Point; Haven Street, Front Street and Middletown Avenue (under the railroad bridge) in Fair Haven, and Ocean View and Meadow View streets in Morris Cove.
After the press briefing, Smuts (pictured) drove down Cart Road, off of Lighthouse Point Terrace, to check out the tide gates that block the Long Island Sound waters from raising the level of Morris Creek. At about noon, the gate was doing its job in holding back the water, though some was seeping around the sides. He predicted that the midnight high tide would spill over the top of the dam, rushing into Morris Creek along Dean Street, where two pumps are waiting to spring into action.
The tide flooded the parking lot of Sage Restaurant at City Point ...
... and sent water overflowing the Jersey barriers the city set up to protect the most vulnerable houses in the city—those right on the Cove, on Townsend. Lucia Ciocca (pictured with neighbor Peter Santino), who has lived at 70 Townsend for 44 years, boarded up her home in anticipation of the storm. She said she planned to leave for Guilford after the midday tide.
Now, she said, “It’s up to God. Whatever he wants.”